The success of immunization programs relies heavily on immunization program managers, who facilitate every aspect of immunization programs, from cost-effective procurement of vaccines to the vigilant monitoring of vaccine safety and efficacy. Sabin’s IAIM Network is the largest international network of immunization managers, offering opportunities to connect, share knowledge and strengthen skills required to effectively implement immunization programs. This peer network creates opportunities for immunization professionals to share best practices and address the most pressing topics challenging immunization programs.
In this spotlight series, we will feature IAIM Network members to highlight their accomplishments as immunization managers and learn from their programs. This interview is with Roberto Arroba Tijerino, EPI Manager, Ministry of Health, Costa Rica.
What is your name and where do you work?
My name is Roberto Arroba Tijerino. I am the EPI manager at the Ministry of Health in Costa Rica. I have been a representative on the NITAG Secretariat since January 2018 and I am in charge of the national influenza program in Costa Rica.
How long have you been an immunization manager?
I have been the EPI manager since 2009.
Why did you want to become an immunization manager?
I decided to study medicine and become a physician to help people. After working at the Costa Rican Social Security Fund and the private sector, I moved to the Ministry of Health. I’ve been assigned to the vaccine program since the beginning and soon I was the EPI manager and then the Secretariat of the NITAG. When I received this position, I was happy because I know that with vaccines, we reach all populations in the country (not just children).
What do you wish people knew about immunization managers?
Well, people may think that immunization is only vaccines or shots but it’s much more than that. It’s really a very complicated world that has many components: buying the biologicals, the cold chain, vaccine safety, distribution and finally the actual immunization of people. In Costa Rica, the immunization program is run through two different institutions – the Ministry of Health and the Social Security Fund. We have to work closely together so that the system can work as well as it possibly can.
What is your biggest professional achievement to date?
In public health, we work for the people, trying to improve the health of the population. We have helped to improve many processes in the past ten years that I’ve been the EPI manager but specific achievements include the introduction of new vaccines (varicella, IPV, rotavirus and HPV), completion of cost-effectiveness studies to justify the introduction of new vaccines (PCV13, rotavirus, HPV) and switching from a trivalent influenza vaccine to a quadrivalent influenza vaccine.
If you or an immunization professional you know has done work you would like to share with the broader IAIM Network community, please nominate them for a future spotlight by emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org.